There's Something About America: bringing Americans together beyond polarization
There is much talk today about the partisan divide between right and left, the deep hues of conviction that ratify positions on either side, the need to reach across the aisle in order to “get things done.” From policy makers to marketers, educators to artists, contemporary Americans know what it means to be polarized: to be divided into opposing camps, to take a firm stand for one’s own position, to defend it against the “others” attacking from the opposite side. In an increasingly polarized America, many Americans have come to believe that compromise is surrender; common ground is nonexistent; “my side is the right side;” there is no other way.
But there is another way. Third in a path-breaking series of theatrical projects aimed at conflict transformation, TE’A is developing There's Something About America Project, an interactive, theatrically innovative performance piece that will provide audience members with direct access to this “other way.” There's Something About America Project is a work of Insight Theatre, a methodology pioneered by TE’A that dramatically involves audience members in ways that conventional theatre currently does not.
The performance piece under development in There's Something About America Project will integrate the Insight approach to conflict analysis and resolution with the interactive, multi-media, multi-genre aesthetics of contemporary political theatre. This uniquely powerful fusion of conflict theory and theatrical performance aims to disrupt and destabilize the polarization of America by inspiring audience members to transform their polarized clash of positions into authentic encounters of persons – a transformation that becomes a live option because the dramatic and aesthetic experience created by There's Something About America enables audiences to experience it within themselves – an experience that is intrinsically dramatic, compelling, and entertaining.
The aims of There's Something About America are therefore unabashedly high. In the course of creating a theatrical performance piece that disrupts and destabilizes polarization in America – we seek both to push back the aesthetic frontier of socially engaged theatre and to help American theatre reprise a role that it played for much of the 20th century as a major contributor to the national conversation about what it means to be American.